This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Scarlett Worthington’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Silence is deafening.
Might as well start this review by saying it is absolutely worth the hype and Riz Ahmed is beyond amazing in this performance. Just to start by stating the obvious.
An insight into the life of Ruben (Riz Ahmed) who is a drummer who loses his hearing due to too much exposure to loud noise.
A anomaly in the obsessed artist category of movies. One would initially go to compare this film to that of Whiplash and Black Swan but unlike those two films the art form isn’t the main focus here. It is a stimulant and an important factor for sure, but this film whilst being majorly character-focussed allows its themes to go a lot further. It speaks a lot more to the bigger picture. What stuck out to me the most, and I can’t remember the quote exactly, but when the character Joe says something along the lines of that being deaf isn’t a disability, it isn’t something to be fixed. I found that in the context of the film so incredibly profound. To many people losing their hearing would feel like the end of the world and if anything could be done to restore it you would do everything you can to do just that. That is literally what Ruben does, so he can get back to making music with his girlfriend and therefore earn money, but in the process of doing that he becomes a part of this community. It’s a safe community of positivity and hope where people rely on each other. It sounds ideal, perfect even, but that’s the thing: you can only be a part of this community at a cost. In Ruben’s case it is his hearing, he has to choose between the new life he has found as someone who is deaf and the life he had before. I think the very fact that despite Ruben being able to hear again, the film ends in silence … I think that, ironically, says everything.
The reality of life, the choices we have to make and even things we don’t have control over are just so incredibly cruel.
Everything I’m saying sounds incredibly pessimistic but I didn’t come out of this film feeling that way or ravaged by melancholy, it isn’t that type of film. I feel enlightened, I feel like I know more. You do just gain something. That’s speaking on a much more visceral level, if we’re talking technicalities this film is an absolute treat. The sound editing and mixing was chef’s kiss*, absolutely deserved the Oscar, you really got to fall into this world and feel like the frustration of the character so so well. What Sound of Metal does with its use of sound (and silence) is exactly what The Father does with the editing of the narrative, I’m only really picking up on that factor because I’ve watched these two films recently. On that note though I’m noticing with all the Oscar nominated films and 2020/2021 releases that educating through empathy seems to be a major theme in all the films I’ve seen. Not much else to say on that, I just thought it was an interesting observation.
To jarringly conclude, yes this film is brilliant and Riz Ahmed is a major reason as to why but this film does really have everything else going for it. Everyone can take something from Sound of Metal for sure.